/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » the problem with onions

Onions are a vital part of most of the world’s culinary experiences.  Some people can’t live without them and wax poetic about their flavour, texture, and the way they enhance meals.

I, on the other hand, can’t stand them.  And it’s not that I just don’t like them, it’s that they don’t like me.  Weird, huh?  Onions have, for the longest time, made me feel ill – with (ahem) gastrointestinal distress.  As a kid, I hated onions and my mom and I went round and round for years – she would force me to eat them, I’d resist, we’d fight, I’d lose, and then I’d lose some more when they made me feel horrible.  I swore that I would never cook with them – even putting it in writing when I was about 12.  She laughed.

And then I met Mark – who is also allion-intolerant. That’s right, folks – Mark can’t eat onions, either.  What are the odds?  I boasted to my mom after we were engaged that I didn’t have to cook with onions for my husband (something she was SURE I would have to do) and said, “God loved me enough to send me a man who can’t eat them either,” in a nah-nah-nah-nah sing-song tone.  She was incredulous.

It sounds weird, right?  But a full 33% of the world’s population cannot digest onions or other allions well.  Many of them aren’t aware of the connection and blame beans or some other ingredient in Mexican food on the indigestion and gas.  But the discomfort continues even when they avoid the legumes – because Mexican food (and other types of cuisine) use a lot of onions.

So we avoid them, lest we have consequences the following day.

But that’s not *really* the problem I was thinking of when I titled this post.  The real problem with onions right now is having to tell people that we cannot eat them.  When we lived in Michigan, at some point we told our friends (probably because we didn’t put them in our meals when we invited people over), and then it was a non-issue.  Our friends remembered and graciously left the onions out of food they prepared or made them in huge chunks so we could avoid them easily.

Now we’re in a new place with new friends.  The comfort of Not Having To Say Anything About Onions is long gone.  It’s a poignant, if not unusual reminder that we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. So far, everyone has been gracious about the onion-issue, and I don’t expect anything to change.  I had a severe allergic reaction to butternut squash a few weeks ago (at my own table), but that’s not as hard to avoid as onions.  But asking friends about onions in their chili recipes or having to explain why we can’t eat them reminds me of the changes we’ve undergone and the adjustments we’ve made to this new life, leaving our old friends behind (so to speak).  It’s something that we took for granted after years of friendship in Michigan and it’s just starting all over again here.

I’m glad to be here and be where God wants us to be, but honestly, I could do without the reminders of what we left behind.  Today it’s onions that bring the memories.  Weird.  But that’s the problem with onions – they make me cry, even when I don’t prepare them or eat them.

Excuse me while I grab a tissue.

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